Eat, drink and recycle

Filed in Blog by on December 15, 2009 6 Comments
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Marsha Llewellyn; environmental promotions officer

Marsha Llewellyn; environmental promotions officer

Did you know – if your local recycling Bring Bank is full and you put your recycling in bags or boxes on the floor next to the skip, it is taken away and landfilled? Did you know that leaving items outside the banks is classed as fly tipping and could set you back £75? Neither did I! And I’m guilty of doing it!

As you’ll be aware, Christmas can be a time of excess. People spend lots of money buying food, drink and gifts and many of them, along with the wrapping, end up in landfill.

Marsha Llewellyn is the environmental promotions officer at the Forest of Dean District Council and alerted me to the whole ‘don’t leave things at the Bring banks’ idea. Along with recycling, when the bring banks can be at full capacity; Marsha is urging householders (regardless of where you live!) to think carefully before leaving things outside the banks and has written the following for us.

Wrapping paper and tin foil

‘It is estimated that the UK throws out 4,500 tonnes of tin foil over the Christmas and New Year period – enough to cover 1500 square miles, equivalent to one and a half times the size of Gloucestershire.

The amount of wrapping paper thrown away is believed to be enough to reach the moon if the sheets were laid end to end.

In total we will produce an estimated 3 million tonnes of waste during the festive period. Scary!

With these kinds of statistics it is not surprising that keeping the district’s recycling sites clean and tidy over Christmas and New Year can be tricky when the banks are used most heavily.

Put it IN the recycling banks!

Unfortunately items left on the ground will not be recycled as the sites are cleared by our street cleaning contractors who’s job it is to keep the town centres and other areas free from litter and not by Biffa who empty the banks.
Items left outside the banks are classed as fly tipping, even if the materials have been left with the best will in the world. Should individuals be proven to be responsible they could face a fine of £75.

Take a moment to care

Bins, especially our cardboard banks, are expensive to empty so we have to balance the financial cost of this with the frequency of collection. The banks are monitored regularly and will inevitably appear full as they approach the time when they are due to be emptied. However, we often get reports of banks overflowing when in fact they are only partly full. Therefore, please take the time to check the apertures around the other side or the end of the bank, as there is often room.

Nonetheless, the Christmas and New Year undoubtedly pose unique problems so my advice is if you cannot recycle it on the day for whatever reason, please take it home and try again; visit an alternative nearby site; or visit the local Household Recycling Centre which is open every day over the period with the exception of Christmas Day and New Years Day.

Remember, by the time Christmas has become a dim and distant memory the impact of all that waste will still be with us.’

Recycling tips

  • Squash plastic bottles and Tetra Pak cartons (these are typically waxed card cartons, used for fruit juice and soups) – this will maximise the space within the banks.
  • Flatten cardboard as much as possible and break down larger boxes.
  • Do not leave recycling or any other waste outside the banks – broken glass is especially hazardous – as it won’t be recycled and is costly to remove.
  • The Forest of Dean council’s website includes a list of all our local recycling sites and what materials are accepted at each.
  • The Household Recycling Centre is open every day except Christmas Day and New Years Day (opening winter times are 8.00am – 4.45pm)
  • Where possible use the kerbside collection service. Dates for household refuse and recycling collections over the festive period are published on our website and will appear in the local press or contact our customer services team on 01594 810000.
  • Christmas trees can be left out for collection with the normal garden waste.

What about you? Did you know that leaving items by the recycling skips would be landfilled? What about checking with your local council to see what they say – I’d love to know!
I have to admit, 18 months ago I would not have cared; I would have dumped my stuff anyway, because I’d made the effort to get there and if the skips were full, I would say it wasn’t my responsibility. But now, with new awareness I would definitely take my recyclables back home and try again another day if the banks were full.

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (6)

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  1. John Costigane says:

    Hi Mrs Green,

    Marsha’s focus on householder’s responsibility, to avoid recyclables lying beside Bring Banks, misses the point in my view. If such recyclate bins are full regularly, judging by the necessity of fines, then steps should be taken to either increase the number of bins available or the frequency of emptying. This could simply be the provision of 1 or 2 extra bins as stand-bys.

    Ownership of such issues must be taken by the council to overcome a persistent difficulty for householders. This seems to be another example of the blame culture which bedevils much of the waste problem. What is required is better thinking in ways to remove permanently such annoying issues, for all concerned. The truth is that recycling is still developing and much has to be learned to achieve best practice throughout the country.

  2. Pat says:

    In my part of Michigan we can leave our recyclables next to the bins if they are full. They will be loaded when the the new empty bins arrive. BUT it is our responsibility to call the center and let them know that the bin is full and needs to be emptied. The bins are not checked daily (which would be nice but with gas prices not feasible) so I don’t mind and calling is very easy to do. I am most grateful that so many people are now actually recycling locally (though I do wish they had more locations to drop off stuff). It is slowly becoming more accepted.

  3. Jane says:

    I think that it is a good idea to ask people to advise the Council or whoever is responsible for the bring banks when they need emptying or there is a probem with them. Most people now have mobile phones and could easily phone or text. I think it is harsh to expect the Councils to do everything for us – we should be able to work together.

    Making it an offence to leave stuff there when the bins are full is very hard for those people who have travelled there on foot or by bus on their way to work for instance. These banks are particularly important for those people who do not have a kerbside collection. They are of course also useful if you are going on holiday and will miss the collection or have an overload of something.

    I just love that lady – she suggesting squashing so there will more room in the banks! It is a great way to get the kids involved as well as an interesting lesson in spatial awareness. (Just make sure they’ve got tough shoes on and take real care particularly with steel cans and tops ie probably just let them do the aluminium ones and Tetra-Pak types and plastic bottles.)

    In Richmond upon Thames you can adopt a bring bank. How about that?

  4. Mrs Green says:

    @John Costigane: Hi John, good point, but without surveillance cameras or someone visiting every day, I wonder how standards can be maintained.
    I have to admit, I think I’ve only seen overflowing recycling bins once – and that was a long time ago. The tetra pak carton bin is often full, but that’s not owned by the council and there is a number for people to ring if they are full. Our council seem to be really good at emptying them locally; but I’m sure it’s a different story in many areas of the UK.
    I guess it is always worth going around to the back of the skip to see if there is room there – I find this quite a lot at our recycling centre – the newspaper one is commonly full at the front, but empty at the back.

    @Pat: Hi Pat, that sounds like a good system – one based on honesty which isn’t always terribly reliable. Sounds like it works in your area though – that’s great.

    @Jane: Hi Jane, good point about those who have travelled on public transport; it must be very frustrating and disheartening to make that journey and find no room. Can crushers are a fun gadget for the whole family to use – a great stress buster too!

  5. Jane says:

    @Mrs Green: You are eo right about there often being room on the other side of the skip! Even if it is not the Council’s skip isn’t it their Recycling Centre or area? So still worth complaining about the overflowing banks. People no longer take care themselves once an area gets messy.

    Re can crushers – you need to make sure that you buy one that will crush steel as well as aluminium. Often they are just for aluminium which is easy to crush. The info is not always clear. I gave up and decided that it was easier and more satisfying with a foot. It is wonderful how many more will go into the bag for transportation.

  6. Mrs Green says:

    @Jane: Hi Jane, thanks for pointing out about the need to check can crushers will crush steel cans. Ours is home made and a monster of a thing! I guess you can buy some flimsy ones that wouldn’t be up to the job …

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